Why Most Business Owners Screw Up Digital Marketing. A Simple Guide for Digital Newbies

Most business owners are wasting tonnes of cash on ineffective digital marketing. What’s worse is their belief they can remedy this by throwing yet money at advertising.

In this blog digital newbies will learn how digital marketing works as a balanced system, how to create this system and how to scale revenue with advertising.

I’m going to tell you what I’ve learnt from spending up to £5000 per day advertising businesses online. The insights I’ve gained reveal where most business owners are going wrong.

Advertising Online

The simplest way to generate revenue online is by advertising your business. You want your customers to ‘click’. Advertising encourages them to do this by showing them something that makes them want to do just that. Social ads, Google ads, banner ads etc. We’re all experts in being sold to online.

Let’s start by teeing you up with some click-bait one-liners:

  • Advertising online is easy.
  • Don’t do it.


Digital advertisers get paid a lot of money to do what they do. And rightly so. So why the click bait?

First, let’s establish some theory. If you’re already acquainted with the Buyer’s Journey & Marketing Funnels, then feel free to skip these paragraphs

Understanding this is the foundation of understanding how and why most business owners are failing at digital marketing.

The Basic Theory of Digital Marketing

The Buyer’s Journey

This is simple. It’s the psychological process your potential customers (prospects) go through before purchase. It’s how they go from ’not having the problem you solve’ to ‘loyal customer’.

This process is often represented with a marketing funnel…

The Marketing Funnel

In this journey your prospects desire different information in order to move to the next step of the buyers journey. By doing this you’re increasing the size of the ready to buy pool.

For example, if the prospect is aware the problem exists and they’re actively looking for providers of solutions, the information they’re receptive to will be different to someone who doesn’t know the problem exists. I’ll show you:

Unaware of problem — info receptive to: simple eye catching messages describing problem — why do we do this? To generate demand.

Aware of problem & unaware/aware of solutions — info: messages on the solutions — why?: because this sells the idea of the solution.

Actively comparing solution providers — info: Sales messages about your USP’s — why?: They’re ready to buy! Now they’re deciding WHO to buy from.

Loyal Customer — info: deals, rewards and news — why?: to encourage repeat purchase.

And therein lies the purpose of the marketing funnel; to proactively funnel prospects along the buyer’s journey.

Importantly, whoever is in control of this process forms a relationship with the customer and is much more likely to get the sale.

Finally, recognising that at each stage of the funnel different platforms are best placed to deliver the information. E.g you want to find prospects who are unaware of the problem? Social media. How do you encourage customer loyalty? Emails.

The main point is every place your prospect engages with you is part of the funnel.

Now Into the Nitty Gritty

We now all understand that funnels are simply the process of turning prospects into customers. If it does this profitably, we can say the funnel is performing well.

So why is this important to understanding why advertising is easy and where most business owners are going wrong?

Why Advertising is Easy

If ads are ‘working’, this means that the people who see your ads are turning into customers at a profitable rate compared to how much the ad costs.

Advertising is just feeding prospects into your marketing funnel. If your marketing funnel is performing well then your ads will work.

Using the funnel we ‘warm customers up’, generating demand. Most business owners don’t understand this and think the ad is solely responsible for the results.

Ads don’t do the hard work. They feed prospects into the funnel. It’s the funnel that does the selling.

Financials — You should know how profitable your funnel is

The first BIG mistake. If you have no idea how their funnel is performing you have no financial model for investing in marketing.

This is a deep topic. But it’s easy to understand that if we know what % of people who visit your website turn into customers and we also know the cost of traffic, then we understand our funnel’s profitability.

Making this Easier to Understand

Think of your funnel as a car. The car’s job is to take people along the journey from prospect to loyal customer. Think of advertising as fuel for the car and profitability is acceleration.

If you want to go somewhere fast (profitably), spending money on fuel (advertising) won’t effect this! What really matters is what car you’re driving (the funnel).

Understanding the car’s acceleration is essentially the financial model. You can’t improve acceleration with more fuel.

A Lamborghini works as a whole system. If anything is off, the performance of the whole system suffers. This is exactly like a marketing funnel. This is the second big mistake business owners make, they don’t treat their online marketing as a whole system.

Before you invest in advertising your job is to understand whether your funnel would be profitable to invest in.

So advertising is easy, you just need a Lambo. Which brings us onto one of the most important concepts in marketing: optimisation.

Optimisation — from sh*tbox to Lambo

When your funnel’s first built, it’s actually a pile of crap. Nothing works as well as it could do and it takes a lot of fuel to get a loyal customer.

The job of a marketer is to turn that crap into a Lamborghini.

This is optimisation.

Every part of your funnel is an essential part of the car. If any of these parts are performing poorly then then you’re going to spend a lot of money creating customers.

Before you start advertising, you need to optimise the car. The only way to do that is organically.

The last big mistake. Ignoring optimisation. If you’re ignoring optimisation then you have no control over the success of marketing.

Organic — Free Traffic for Optimising your Funnel

Organic means free (but it costs time). You can generate organic traffic from word of mouth, posting to forums and groups, google searches that your website shows up for, going viral on social media etc.

Your funnel is made up of a lot of moving parts with their own measures of success. Organic traffic lets you measure the performance. The trial and error methods of improving the part’s performance.

This is why I tell people to ‘not do ads’. Most business owners think by only running ads they can grow their business. But they ignore the optimisation process and fail to build a financial model. This is a sure route to failure.

The Single Best Piece of Advice I Can Give You.

You need someone experienced in digital marketing dedicated to the optimisation of your funnel.

Operating and optimising a marketing funnel requires platform expertise, strategic knowledge and content creation. Marketing is considered a science. You need specialism in these roles.

(A quick word on why ads aren’t just a walk in the park.)

This whole blog I’ve been saying how easy ads are. And I stand by that! But I confirm that producing high-quality content and using technical expertise to run ads isn’t un-skilled. It’s also easy to f*ck up.

But the hard yards are building a funnel that works. Running ads is a process of applying that funnel. Advertising profitably shouldn’t be a struggle.


So after spending £5000 per day on advertising, where do I see business owners going wrong with digital marketing?

  1. They don’t treat their marketing like a whole system that needs to be improved piece by piece through optimisation.
  2. They rush to advertising without a proven financial model thinking it will generate results, and when it doesn’t they blame it on the ads.

What I’ll do now is list the areas of a marketing funnel. I’ll give you an example of an actual marketing funnel and key actions you can take to get your marketing funnel ready for massive growth with advertising.

What makes up a digital marketing funnel:

  • Platforms: social media, website, email, forums
  • Content: images, writing, videos
  • Advertising channels: social ads, search engines, display networks
  • Automation software- you can’t do everything manually
  • Tracking- how do you know when a sale has been made because of your marketing?
  • Offering- the product/service itself & the special offers you make
  • Customer persona- which target market is most profitable to target?

Example Funnel — funnel progresses from left to right

Key Takeaways

  • Your marketing funnel is the digital process for funnelling your prospects through the buyer’s journey. This creates more buyers.
  • Your funnel is a car & advertising is just fuel for the engine. Ads can only perform as well as your funnel can.
  • Use organic traffic to get the funnel in working order & build out a financial model before pouring money into advertising.
  • Work with professional(s) who are dedicated to overseeing digital marketing. This will give you the best chance of success.